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Christmas Fare: Donal Skehan has some delicious recipes for you to try at home

Chef Donal Skehan shares recipes for Christmas brunch, roast pork shoulder, meringue and cookies.

Donal Skehan

I DON’T KNOW about you, but Christmas seems really important for us all in 2020, given the year we’ve had. We are being told by the experts that we need to prepare for a Christmas with a difference, and that’s as it should be, so we can keep each other safe.

I love Christmas at the best of times, but this year, I’m going to pull out all the stops with our food and make sure we’re all at least well-fed on the day if not able to be with the wider family we love.

What 2020 did bring for a lot of families was a return to home cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, and our two boys are the same as all children in that they love to ‘help out’ and mess up the workspace. My advice? Let them at it, they love getting stuck into recipes, especially the sweet ones. I’ve shared a cookie recipe for any keen little Christmas chefs in your life below.

One of our favourite family traditions on Christmas mornings is a hearty brunch, especially after a big walk in nature. The recipe below will keep you all going until your main meal and is a great way to use up any leftovers you have about.

Try a couple of other recipes too to liven up your Christmas table. I can recommend the pork shoulder and sure, no one ever turned down a boozy brownie meringue! Enjoy, and Happy Christmas to you all:

Christmas Brunch

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Serves 4

Takes 30 minutes 

For the waffles:

125g butter, melted 

75g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 free-range eggs

400ml whole milk

200g leftover ham, shredded

100g Cheddar, grated

2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

For the poached eggs:

4 free-range eggs

1 tsp white wine vinegar

For the wilted spinach:

75g unsalted butter

4 handfuls fresh spinach

For the hollandaise: 

2 large egg yolks

1tsp white wine vinegar 

150g butter, melted and hot

Lemon juice to taste

  1. Preheat a waffle maker to the medium setting.

  2. To make the waffles whisk together the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk until smooth. Stir through the remaining ingredients, mix to combine, holding back 50g ham to serve and season. 

  3. Pour a little of the mixture into the waffle maker and cook for 6–8 minutes. If the waffle machine makes less than four at a time, repeat with the remaining batter and keep the cooked waffles warm as you do so.

  4. To make the hollandaise sauce, whiz the egg yolks with the vinegar and some seasoning in a blender. Gradually and slowly, pour in the hot melted butter, with the blender running, until you have a thick smooth sauce. This part is not to be rushed. Season with lemon juice to taste along with salt and pepper. 

  5. To cook the spinach, heat the butter in a saucepan, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season to taste.

  6. To make the poached eggs, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the salt and vinegar and stir to dissolve the salt. Crack an egg into a cup and slowly lower the edge of the cup into the pot and drop in the egg. Cook the egg at a very gentle simmer for 3–4 minutes for the yolk to still be runny. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

  7. To serve, place a waffle on each plate with some wilted spinach on top. Top each with a poached egg, the remaining shredded ham and pour over hollandaise sauce. Don’t forget lots of freshly ground black pepper to finish.

Spicy Christmas Pork Shoulder

DFFIM Ep 10 Spicy Christmas Pork Shoulder (L)2 Source: Donal Skehan

Serves 8

Takes 4-6 hours 

For the Bo Saam:

100g sugar 

100g sea salt 

100g gochujang 

4kg pork shoulder, bone in

Ginger & spring onion sauce:

4 spring onions, sliced 

3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated 

1 tbsp sesame oil 

2 tbsp rice vinegar 

4 tbsp Soy sauce 

Sea salt

For the cucumber and cabbage salad:

1 tbsp sugar 

2 tbsp rice vinegar 

2 tsp sesame oil 

1 tbsp soy sauce 

2 tsp gochujang

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1 cucumber 

1 Chinese cabbage, roughly shredded 

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

To serve: 

Sticky rice

2 heads baby gem, leaves separated 

Kimchi 

  1. Mix together the sugar, salt and gochujang in a small mixing bowl to create a paste.

  2. Place the pork shoulder in a large casserole dish and using your hands massage the paste all over the meat until completely coated. Cover with tin foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  3. Preheat oven to 140˚C. Place into the oven for at least 4 hours or until the meat is fork-tender, basting regularly with the rendered fat and juices. It should easily shred when the meat is ready.

  4. While the pork cooks, prepare the spring onion sauce by mixing together the ingredients in a small bowl. 

  5. Whisk the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, soy, gochujang and sesame seeds together in a large bowl until the sugar has dissolved.

  6. Thinly slice the cucumber,  add to a large bowl along with the cabbage and spring onions. Toss to coat the cabbage and cucumber in the dressing. Shred the meat from the bone, toss in the sauce and serve with the rice, baby gem, kimchi and spring onion sauce alongside the salad. 

Boozy Brownie Meringue

cTeQxdDQ Source: Donal Skehan

Serves 8

Takes 1 hour 

For the brownie:

225g good-quality dark chocolate

225g butter

300g caster sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

For the meringue: 

200g icing sugar, plus extra to serve 

3 egg whites

1 tsp of cornflour

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1/2 tsp of white wine vinegar

For the topping:

450ml double cream 

50g icing sugar

2tbsp brandy 

30g chopped toasted hazelnuts 

Gold stars, glitter and indoor sparklers 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/ 160c. Grease and line a 20cm round springform baking tin with baking parchment.

  2. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir constantly until melted and smooth.

  3. With a hand-held electric mixer, whisk the sugar and eggs together for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the melted chocolate and butter then add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk until thickened. Lastly, sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently.

  4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is firm and the cake has come away slightly from the sides of the tin.

  5. Place the icing sugar and egg whites in a standing food mixer and whisk on high for 10 minutes until glossy white peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold in the cornflour and the white wine vinegar. Pour the mixture on top of the brownie mix and bake for another 20 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

  6. Once cooled, remove from the tin onto a cake stand. Whip the cream with the icing sugar until pillowy but still soft and then fold in the brandy. Dollop onto the top of the cake then sprinkle with the hazelnuts and gold stars and indoor sparklers and serve. 

Kids’ Christmas Cookies

Iq1CxH_A Source: Donal Skehan

Makes 30

Takes 50 minutes

100g of muscovado sugar

150g of butter

1 large free-range egg

350g of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

A pinch of salt

1 tbsp of mixed spice

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 pack of foxes fruits or jolly ranchers

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/ fan 160c and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

  2. In a stand-alone mixer beat together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and beat through.

  3. Mix through the flour, baking powder, salt, mixed spice and vanilla extract until you have a biscuit dough.

  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1cm in thickness.

  5. Cut out biscuit shapes, place on the lined baking tray, then using a smaller cutter or a small knife cut out the centre of each cookie, arranging these around the tray as well.

  6. Crush the sweets using a rolling pin, they don’t need to be very fine pieces and arrange them into the centre of the cookie. Place in the oven.

  7. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, using a straw or end of a piping nozzle, poke out a hole at the top of each cookie. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  8. String through some ribbon and hang on the tree.

Donal’s Christmas Show airs on RTÉ on 23 December at 8.30 pm. You can also subscribe to www.donalskitchen.com.

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